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Do We Listen to What Makes Children Happy? A Systematic Literature Review of Voices of Children Aged 3-7 Years in Educational Research

Urbina-Garcia, Angel


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Dr Angel Urbina Garcia
Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes and Lecturer in Early Childhood


Research shows that children's views and experiences are usually overlooked in discussions related to their own happiness and wellbeing. In fact, the largest international study to date on children's wellbeing only included children aged 8-12. A review of reviews further reveals that no previous studies have focused on exploring factors that make children aged 3-7 happy. This research addresses this gap in the literature by conducting the first systematic review of international studies exploring young children's perspectives on happiness. The EPPI-Centre framework guided this systematic review of international research published covering almost a decade of research (2015-2024). This comprehensive approach aimed to provide an overview of the current research landscape to inform future research and policy decisions. Out of 2594 papers arguing to listen to children, only five focused on exploring children's happiness and wellbeing from an interpretivist perspective. Results showed that there are studies listening to children's voices, however, very limited studies genuinely explore what makes children happy. Factors contributing to children's happiness and wellbeing include spending time with loved ones, receiving praise, achieving goals and engaging in sociodramatic play. Negative factors include feeling ignored, having limited interaction with peers/friends and being forced to do activities children do not enjoy. Methodological limitations identified include unclear sample selection, regional bias, subjective data interpretation, and predetermined prompts influencing children's responses. The findings can inform future research directions and policy decisions aimed at promoting children's happiness and well-being in schools. As such, this paper provides a unique insight and makes an original and significant contribution to the field.


Urbina-Garcia, A. (2024). Do We Listen to What Makes Children Happy? A Systematic Literature Review of Voices of Children Aged 3-7 Years in Educational Research. Journal of Happiness and Health, 4(2), 46-62.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 3, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 5, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Apr 9, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 12, 2024
Journal Journal of Happiness and Health
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 2
Pages 46-62
Keywords Systematic literature review; children's happiness; children's wellbeing; happy children; children's voices
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